ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- It looks like President Trump is going to put more pressure on our relationship with South Korea. He has now given orders to his White House advisers to get the documents ready that would get the U.S. out of the 5 year old U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement. We currently have a $28 billion trading deficit with South Korea. Earlier this summer negotiators from both countries tried to make some changes to the deal but South Korea was mostly unwilling to make any significant changes, frustrating our negotiators. The President could announce his decision on a withdrawal from the deal yet this week. Under terms of the deal, either side can pull out of the deal by giving 180 days notice.
When President Trump ran for president, one of his campaign promises was to reduce the size of the federal government. And he is doing just that. First it was the State Department staff that was cut and now it's the Environmental Protection Agency. 2 years ago the EPA had 15,500 employees across the country and now that total is down to 14,400 as 400 more EPA employees left their jobs in the past week. Most workers are leaving with healthy buyouts or early retirements as the agency could soon be at its lowest staffing levels in 30 years. The President's budget proposal would cut EPA funding by 31% and that could mean an overall cut of 3,200 people from the EPA payroll.
Last week it was Hurricane Harvey but this week it's Hurricane Irma that could cause massive damage depending on where it hits land. Right now Florida is in its path and agriculture officials and farmers there are worried. If Irma tracks over Central Florida it could devastate citrus trees and sugarcane. And if it goes more to the east the storm could wipe out cotton, corn and soybean crops in the Carolinas.
There won't be any problems finding enough cheese for your cheese trays for the Packer game this Sunday. Latest numbers from the USDA show national cheese output in July was up another 1% from a year ago to just over 1 billion pounds. And as usual Wisconsin leads the nation in cheese production with almost 274 million pounds in July. And that's with less American cheese output compared to last year and June production. But other varieties-cheddar, Italian and Mozzarella all saw increased production in July. California continues to be number 2 in cheese production, followed by Idaho, New Mexico and New York.
For forage producers today is the last day to enter your commercial hay, baleage, dairy hay, grass hay and organic haylage in the annual World Forage Analysis Superbowl at World Dairy Expo in Madison. Winners will be announced at Dairy Expo on October 4th with category winners getting cash prizes of as much as $2,500.